Most of us will answer that question a bit differently, but just about everyone was strongly influenced by the same thing in their decision to buy a camcorder. Even the prosumers and the professionals had the same thing in mind to some degree when they were shopping for a camera: the desire to reconstruct a memory, to re-create an emotional state for posterity.

At least 24 million camcorders have been purchased since 1985 for this one reason alone: to reminisce.

It’s a funny thing when you think about it, the human quest for feelings. We take vacations for the peaceful feelings we get from the experience. We go on roller coasters seeking fear. We buy speed boats, fast cars and motorcycles for the thrill. We buy big cars for comfort and for pride.

We buy little plastic devices full of electronics in the pursuit of other feelings. We buy CD players for the feelings that the world’s leading recording artists create. These can be peaceful, calm feelings or a whirlwind of agitated emotions. We often use telephones to speak with our family and friends, seeking comfort and familiarity. Computers and video games give us excitement, thrills and feelings of accomplishment.

Camcorders and still cameras give us the feelings we get when we reminisce. Camcorders do a much better job of this because we get the illusion of motion and sound. In a limited way, camcorders actually remember for us.

What do we really get when we watch video of our kids’ birthday parties? We don’t get the memory at face value. We really don’t care too much about the actual seconds and minutes that make up a birthday party. If we did, the videos would be just as fulfilling right after the party or the next day. Videos are like fine wines, scotch and furniture; they gain value as they age.

What we get when we watch a video shot 10 years ago is the ability to see how we have changed. We see the same sights and hear the same sounds, but we are older and wiser. We can remember how we saw the world around us back in those days. We remember our innocence and naivete. When we remember our youth, we remember that we are growing old.

Watching old home videos can be quite a shock to the system. We become more human when we see ourselves in times past. That’s why we’re willing to invest several hundred dollars in a camcorder: for the privilege of being able to humble ourselves in the future.

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